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John Boehner 10, Russell 8, South Dakota 7, Us 7, Bill Russell 7, David Gregory 6, Mike Lee 5, Michelle Obama 5, Washington 4, Boehner 4, Barack Obama 3, America 3, Boston 3, Frank Luntz 3, Obama 3, David Brock 3, Jack Lew 3, Ronald Reagan 2, Lawrence 2, Michelle 2,
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  MSNBC    The Last Word    News/Business. Current  
   issues and news stories.  

    February 16, 2011
    3:00 - 4:00am EST  

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it is like being in the john birch society. they said ike was a communist. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. the last word with lawrence o'donnell starts now. the day after president obama released his budget, he held a press conference to defend it, and issued his first veto threat to the republican house. >> what weighs ten pounds and pleases nobody. >> not good to get a head line on the first day. >> president obama is back to a campaign message on budget cutting. >> we have to be careful. again, let's use a scalpel, not a machete. >> called a budget cut, not a budget massage. >> he is playing a delicate game. >> the government's credit card is on fire.
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>> where the president cuts with a scalpel republicans are cranking up the chain saw. >> house republicans prepare to offer their deep spending cuts. >> president obama effectively punting it. >> republicans will not punt. everything is on the table. >> the republicans accuse the president of punting and then to punt back. >> the gop is saying that the president punted on this. >> republicans have punted for the past year on all these issues. >> it is going to get boring. >> why are republicans already saying they won't compromise, the tea party won't let them, even if it costs jobs. >> the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. >> i think that's a very flip attitude about a very serious problem. >> the white house is hoping that the republicans are seen as going a bit too far. >> the republican strategy of you cut, women, infants, children, the fbi, cdc, americorps, peace corps.
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>> so what if it's air traffic controllers that make the skies safe. so what if it is usda meat inspectors that make sure the food supply is safe. >> republicans attack the president for not supporting the budget commission plan, even though they don't support it either. >> hypocrisy in washington. >> you are about to witness what may prove to be an historic competition. good evening from washington. it was a day of defense for president obama and his administration as both democrats and republicans continue to pick apart his 2012 budget. omb director jack lew went head to head with paul ryan, saying although this was the most difficult budget he's worked on, he's confident it puts the federal government on a spending track that is sustainable.
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treasury secretary timothy geithner went through the house ways and means committee arguing the corporate tax rate should be cut substantially and that we cannot slash social security benefits. president obama defended his budget at a press conference. >> part of the challenge here is that this town, let's face it, you guys are pretty impatient. if something doesn't happen today, the assumption is it's just not going to happen. all right. i had this conversation the last two years about everything we worked on. the fiscal commission put out a framework. i agree with much of the framework, i disagree with some of the framework. my goal is to actually solve the problem, not to get a good headline on the first day. my goal is that a year from now or two years from now, people look back and say you know what, we actually started making progress on this issue. >> the republicans, of course,
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kept up their relentless criticism of the president and his budget. >> this will continue to hurt job creation in america. when it comes to the real issues facing our country, he just punted. >> joining me now, howard fineman of the huffington post and msnbc analyst. thanks for joining me. the latest is a veto threat from the president. why now so early in the process. >> this is extraordinary. it shows the real fight now isn't over the 2012 budget, which everybody was talking about. >> which is the obama budget. >> the big book came out, what everybody has been talking about and dismissing. that's long-range. that's a walk in the park compared to what's going on now, which is a fight over the current budget for the year we're in which never really had an official budget. now the new tea party republicans in the house are saying they want to cut as much as $100 billion out telephone, which is a huge amount of what's left of that budget for the year. i think the republican leaders
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in the house may have outsmarted themselves. they tried to outaccommodate the tea party by putting on the table initially a very large number for their cuts, but the tea party people, of course, want more. president obama and the democrats seeing an opportunity here, thinking the republicans had gone too far are trying to politically get out ahead of them. also the president wants to say in advance look, if you're going to shut down the government on march 4th because we can't come to agreement over this year's budget, i'm going to warn you right now that what you're proposing on the floor of the house is way too much. you jumped the shark way over the top. if you don't pass something, it is your fault the government gets shut down. >> you're reading this veto statement as the president will veto the plan as the republicans have described it so far. >> yes. >> if they actually try to pass what they have out there right now.
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because there's a certain amount of vagueness in this, but you can definitely read it that way. >> well, until a few minutes ago, the president was saying hey, you guys are being impatient, the budget game is a long range game. this is going to take months, not years. then bang, as soon as you got to this year's budget, it got very nasty very fast. what's going to happen, house republicans will pass draconian cuts. the senate still controlled by the democrats will not accept it. then you've got a situation coming up march 4th about whether the government is going to shut down for lack of funds for this year. the democrats in the senate will try to pass another little measure to continue things as is for a couple of weeks. if that's going to come down to a vote in the house, the democrats will vote for that. question, how many republicans will vote for it? if they don't vote for it, the government could shut down. the president is anticipating that, trying to get ahead of the politics of it. that's what's going on right now. >> on that side of this, he is playing offense. >> yes. >> is this a reaction to something i raised last night with howard dean, the budget
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going forward for the next fiscal year, has he already given up too much in that budget? >> oh, he signaled yes. and it is interesting to watch. offense on this year, defense on next year, because yes, he is trying to reach independent voters. he is trying to say i care about the deficit, and in the process he's already disappointed the real deficit hawks and angered the progressive base of the party because he signaled he is willing to accept cuts, and he's also quietly signaling by actions not words that he is willing to talk about entitle many times, medicare, medicaid and social security. there's a small group of senate democrats meeting with senate republicans in secret, called d triple c. the d is the key person, dick did your ben, liberal republican from illinois, good friend of the president. he is meeting with them about how to cut entitlements. the progressives see that, think things are going in a bad direction. if they think it is bad now, they think it will get worse down the road, and they're right. >> the president says we won't slash social security benefits. i think it comes down to the
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meaning of slash. will you trim them a tiny bit, and what we are talking about is the rate of increase in social security benefits. one man's cut is another man's increase. >> the hair trigger on this is amazing on social security. this afternoon, the president at will you trim them a tiny bit, and what we are talking about is the rate of increase in social security benefits. one man's cut is another man's increase. >> the hair trigger on this is amazing on social security. this afternoon, the president at the press conference said, you know, social security doesn't contribute very much to the deficit. well, progressives immediately perked up and says it doesn't contribute anything to the deficit. there's going to be a lot of shock and outrage every day as people look at every word out of the president's mouth and jack lew. >> howard fineman, perfect at expressing his shock and outrage. thank you for joining us tonight, howard. >> all right. joining me now, congressman anthony weiner. i want you to listen to something that the progressive change campaign committee put out today, their statement about
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the president's budget saying, and about what he said in the press conference today. they say it is unacceptable for this president to continually suck up to wall street banks that caused the current economic mess, legit miez the cutting of benefits earned by workers, and pretend republican proposals to cut medicare and democratic proposals to end tax cuts for the wealthy are equally legitimate proposals, they are not. americans did not elect a democratic president to act like ronald reagan or enact a corporate agenda. congressman, did he sound like ronald reagan to you in that press conference? >> no, i think that goes too far, but i have to tell you i have a website democrats who fight.com, which are democrats that they think should be more combative and they are genuinely concerned about things in the president's budget. you don't get savings by slashing heating savings for seniors by 50%.
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but i think it is an effort by the president to say look, i am trying to get something done here and be reasonable. in stark contrast to the republican budget which is off the wall, dramatic cuts in air traffic controllers, elimination of police for hiring program that goes to all 50 states and every congressional district. i think the posture the president is trying to strike going into these negotiations, i am trying to be an adult, have a responsible budget, but there is no doubt about it. a lot of us are concerned about what comes next. you alluded to the problem with social security. it reduces the net appearance of deficit because they have such a large surplus. that's the big question going forward. he can't give an answer on social security because that's a legitimate democratic priority and something that doesn't add a single dime to the deficit. >> congressman, let's listen to something that john boehner said about cutting spending today. >> over the last two years since president obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal
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jobs, and if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. we're broke. it's time for toys get serious about how we're spending the nation's money. >> congressman, you heard the speaker of the house say about 200,000 jobs. if they're lost, so be it. in an economy like this where we have not had a jobs recovery yet, 200,000 jobs is something the speaker of the house isn't worried about if you lose them. >> frankly, i think john boehner and the republican congress so be it is going to be their mantra. they are talking about shutting down the government in the middle of a war. what kind of message does that send to the troops at the front that they're prepared to shut down government on the altar of some eye delogical thing. the republicans don't know how to run the country. we had a vote to shave $50 million off the defense budget. a majority of democrats said that's reasonable. the republicans couldn't even agree to do that. they don't quite know how to
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govern in a reasonable and responsible way, which ultimately is what makes the president's approach seem so rationale and adult. when you say you don't care whether jobs were lost, they mean it, they don't care. >> let's go back to first principles. how did it come to be we are talking about cutting spending now. why are we cutting any spending as long as we still -- in an economy that hasn't recovered jobs, why shouldn't we wait until 2014. why cut any spending now, before we have gotten the unemployed back to work. >> i believe they're spending in the federal budget that isn't stimulative and is wasteful. we should always look for ways to reduce waste in government. but the single tool we have to get out of the recession is to get people working again. the thing that led to the dragon the federal budget is fewer people paying taxes, more getting government services. if we can get those people back to work, that's the single best
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thing we can do to reduce the deficit and long-term debt. but that doesn't mean that progressives and everyone shouldn't be looking at the budget to find waste. and i think the president has gone too far. i want to get back to this. to cut 50% energy assistance for senior citizens, i don't know who we think that's going to save. it is $2.5 million in a $3.7 trillion budget. do we think that's going to reduce the deficit? >> that's what comes when you try to meet republicans halfway on spending cuts. congressman, thank you for your time. >> thank you, lawrence. for the first time on capitol hill, the tea party has elected republicans at a seat at the table for budget talks. tea party candidate mike lee says severe cuts are needed. we'll find out how far he's willing to go. and later, a viciously racist cartoon about michelle obama. a right wing latest disgusting disgrace.
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as the debate over budget cuts and deficits takes over washington, republicans aim to destroy social security and medicare. senator mike lee of the tea party joins me with his ideas about how to destroy, oh, i mean reform, those programs. and later, bill o'reilly attacks nbc's david gregory for exposing john boehner's hypocrisy over the birther movement. @@
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jack lew had a rough day on capitol hill. he had to defend president obama's $3.73 trillion 2012 budget before both democratic and republican critics. first, he got this from house budget committee chairman, congressman paul ryan. >> what's so frustrating about this is you know the drivers of our debt are the entitlement programs, and yet you're doing nothing to address that. when people elect the president, they expect the president to lead. you're assuming the economy is going to take off in a year in which you are raising taxes everywhere, all over the economy. and if your math doesn't add up, then we're all in a world of hurt. >> then jack lew shuttled over to the senate subcommittee where he got this from ranking senator jeff sessions. >> senator, i don't disagree we have to pay down the debt, reduce the interest payments. the only thing i take issue with.
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>> does this budget do it? >> i think we get to the point. >> does it do it? >> i respect your position, senator. >> i can't respect a position that suggests this budget reduces the debt. >> i believe mr. lew is flatly in error, and i hope the president never repeats that the budget is balanced in the ten years. >> newly elected tea party members threatened to vote against raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit unless they see significant budget cuts. senator mike lee of utah has taken it a step further, saying he will actually filibuster that vote unless congress passes a balanced budget amendment like the one he's introduced in the senate. joining me now, senator mike lee. senator, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. >> senator, on election night i asked if a republican, newly elected tea party republican would filibuster the raising of
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the debt ceiling because you senators are uniquely, individually empowered to prevent a raising of the debt ceiling. no one in the house of representatives has that power, only you senators do. are you really willing to do that and for the first time in our nation's history not raise the debt ceiling when necessary and allow the country to go functionally bankrupt? >> well, those are two different questions. yes, i'm willing to use the filibuster rule in the senate in order to stand up for what the american people want, which is for us to stop postponing the inevitable problem that we are passing onto future generations. we have to stop doing that. >> and you're willing to have the debt ceiling not be raised, have the nation's credit actually break into its debt limit, and therefore have us default on our bonds worldwide? >> no. look, you're presenting a false question that assumes a false premise. it suggests that the only
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alternative to raising the debt ceiling is somehow to default and that isn't true. i am a cosponsor of pat tomb ee's legs that would make clear if the debt selling isn't raised that the first money in the door will always go towards maintaining our obligations for debt service. so we won't default. it is a false choice that those on our left, those that want to continue the problem of perpetual deficit spending want us to believe, but it certainly isn't true. >> we don't have the time to get into how much chaos worldwide would be provoked by your hypothetical which i don't believe you're going to do. i want to tell you now to your face on television that i do not believe you will risk this country breaking the debt ceiling by filibustering that. i believe you will back down when the time comes and when the pressure is put on you on the senate floor. but if you don't, i very much want you on this show when you do that filibuster. and tell me why john boehner is
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wrong, is wrong about the debt ceiling when he said it would be a financial disaster, that's what he said. if we don't raise the debt ceiling, that would be a financial disaster not only for us but for the worldwide economy. tell me why john boehner is so wrong. what is it he doesn't understand about the worldwide economy. >> lawrence, he is going against the will of 70% of americans, citizens who say we are tired of you raising the debt ceiling, don't do it. why? because it is killing jobs. once our debt to gdp ratio crosses that 90% threshold which we've down, and now are approaching 100%, it starts to slow economic growth to the tune of 1% a year. it can kill jobs to the tune of 1 million a year, and we have to stop this, lest we go into the economic tail spin we saw in greece a couple years ago. the american people don't want this done and we've got to stand up for them.
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>> what do you make of the house of representatives proposal going forward on the budget for the remainder of the year. they don't seem to be achieving their campaign promise of cutting $100 billion. >> yeah. they don't at this point. i applaud them for the efforts they made thus far, and i think we need to continue to achieve more cuts. >> will you vote for a budget that violates the $100 billion pledge? >> i will be reluctant to do so. we have a problem that i think needs to be addressed and can be addressed effectively. only when we pass a balanced budget amendment. >> senator lee, when i hear a senator say i'd be very reluctant to do that, i take that as a yes, you will vote for it when the time comes if you have to. >> no, that is absolutely not a yes. what that's saying is that we have an infinite number of variables that come between where i'm standing today and whenever the continuing resolution comes up for a vote, and i'm not going to tell you whether i'm going to vote yes or
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no on something that doesn't exist in final form yet. >> senator mike lee, tea party republican from utah. thank you for joining us tonight, senator. >> thank you. as a dramatic ad is released defending women's reproductive rights, the legislative move in south dakota is opening a new political front on the war on abortion. and up next, the medal of freedom was awarded to 15 people, and i was honored to accompany bill russell to that ceremony. coming up, why bill russell called today the second best day of his life. [ male announcer ] 100 crisps in every can. ♪ 100 ways to enjoy pringles. ♪ ♪ and they're the same price as the leading bag chips. 100 crisps... 100 ways.
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you go next if you had a
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earlier today i had the honor of accompanying bill russell and his family to the white house. he and 14 others were awarded the medal of freedom by president obama at a ceremony this afternoon in the east room. the list included holocaust survivor, yo-yo ma, george h.w. bush, maya angelou, warren buffet, and congressman john lewis. bill russell appeared on this program with is a bell wilkerson to discuss the book the warmth of other sons. it details mass migration of african-americans out of the south. big russell played basketball on two ncaa championship teams, one olympic gold medal winning team, and 11, yes, 11 nba championship
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teams with the boston celtics. he also was the first black coach in american major league sports. president obama began his remarks about bill russell by pointing out that bill russell didn't make the team every time he tried out for a team. >> when bill russell was in junior high, he was cut from his basketball team. he got better after that. [ laughter ] >> more than any athlete of his era, bill russell came to define the word winner. bull russell the man is someone that stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. he marched with king. he stood by ali, and i hope one day in the streets of boston children will look at a statue built not only to bill russell the player but bill russell the man. >> when i was a child growing up on the streets of boston, we all looked up to bill russell the player and bill russell the man. he said today's award was the second best thing that's ever
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happened to him. the best? being told by his father, quote, i am very proud of the way you turned out as my son, and i'm very proud of you as a father. in the white house today, bill russell's children were very proud of him as a father, too. coming up, bill o'reilly criticizes "meet the press" for talking about the birther conspiracies with john boehner, while neglecting to mention it was fox news that gave the birthers air time first. david brock of media matters joins me. and in happy rewrite, someone turned the let's move campaign for kids in this country into a vile, racist attack against the first lady. [ female announcer ] what if your natural beauty could be flawless, too?
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in tonight's spotlight, the bill o'reilly character played by bill o'reilly on the long running fox news sitcom the
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o'reilly factor has decided to take on a real life journalist. the o'reilly character writers gave him a job of objecting to david gregory's "meet the press" interview where david asks john boehner why he hasn't tried to straighten out fellow republicans who refuse to believe that president obama was born in this country and is a christian. >> we have a country that's just about bankrupt, may be selling furniture on capitol hill pretty soon. >> i can't. >> and he is back on the birth certificate muslim stuff. the issue doesn't matter. it doesn't matter. sane, clear thinking people understand the president is not a muslim, and he wasn't born in indonesia or whatever they're putting out there. so why does "meet the press" and nbc news take up valuable air time to hammer a guy who has
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nothing to do with it, boehner. >> bill o'reilly the actor is a little smarter than the character he plays on tv. so bill o'reilly the actor knows exactly why david gregory was following that line of questioning. it was inspired by fox news. >> something that caught my eye that was on fox news on the hannity program, a focus group with voters in iowa led by frank luntz, he had this exchange with them. >> i believe that barack obama's religious believes do govern his foreign policy. >> and what are his religious believes? >> i believe he is a muslim. >> you do. >> yes. >> how many of you believe that? wow, you believe he's a muslim? >> yes. >> that's right. fox news took up its own valuable air time to cover something the o'reilly character says shouldn't be covered. and speaking of valuable air time, david gregory spent three and a half minutes on the issue.
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bill o'reilly's segment blasting david gregory twice as long, seven minutes. joining me now, david brock, founder and chairman of media matters.org. you have to forgive me, the guy makes me laugh. you have delivered wonderfully strong outrage about what bill o'reilly does on tv. most of the time i take him for the sitcom character that i think he is. and this thing where he's saying what is david gregory doing after what david gregory is doing is showing you something on fox news that is so shocking that frank luntz, the focus group leader, says something focus group leaders never say. wow. they always try to play it absolutely flat to get more out of the focus group. i mean, this is what he does all night. >> look, i can see getting a laugh out of this. but the truth is everything bill o'reilly said in that segment is false, starting with the idea this is an issue. there was a new poll out today that shows 51% of republican
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primary voters believe obama was foreign born. hold this false belief. 28% of republicans in general hold that belief. the question is why. and as you suggested, a big reason is fox and right wing media continue to stir the pot. they started this with a false story back in what i consider to be the first swift boat attack on barack obama in january of 2007 where they falsely reported he went to a radical muslim -- they had to retract that. had sean hannity say -- they play this double game, gee, i wouldn't mind if somebody raised a question, asked to see the birth certificate. you saw frank luntz stirring the pot. so bill o'reilly is angry that the game got called out. gregory doesn't need my defending him. he did the right thing. >> he also does that game of oh, come on, i don't believe he is a wife beater. so the guy is a wife beater keeps being said, and bill plays the i don't believe character,
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then brings in right wing nuts like laura ingram on and say you just hate obama and he looks like the reasonable guy in this. >> sure. the whole thing is a shtick. boehner is a coward in that interview. he is intimidated. you see a very scared man there. so to give that more air time, it is not helping john boehner. it might help bill o'reilly with his audience. think about the fox audience. they are siding with the intimidators in the fight. >> john boehner spent his entire working life trying to convince republicans to think his way on taxes and spending and every other republican doctrine. he tries to instruct americans nonstop in his congressional district and throughout the country to think like a republican on taxes. but he won't say a word about
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the president's birth or the president's religion. if people want to be wrong about that, that's not john boehner's job to say anything about it. >> that's right. he's clearly lost control. boehner has lost control. on these questions, it is not just john boehner but cantor and others. they are cowards. they know the truth and won't say it. >> what is it boehner thinks he can preserve, with the crazy right who want him to say obama was not born here and is a muslim, what does he preserve with them by saying i believe him, but? >> i think they're scared of this phenomenon. it is not a new phenomenon. this is an underlying campaign to delegitimize barack obama. there were people in the day that thought the clintons were murderers. >> david brock, founder and chairman of media matters. thank you for joining me. >> thank you. in attempt to criticize michelle obama's "let's move" campaign, a right wing newspaper
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printed something not only unfunny but racist. coming up, that's in the rewrite. and this new dramatic ad defending the right to choose released the same day as a south dakota congressman presents a law.
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last night, a right wing website published a cartoon slamming the first lady's health initiative, and depicted her and the president in a racist way. that's in the rewrite. and a south dakota lawmaker proposes expanding the state's definition of justifiable homicide to include killing a person in the lawful defense of an unborn child. more on that coming up.
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time for tonight's rewrite. who is this? take your time. shutup and pass the bacon. is that someone's catch phrase on a sitcom? give up? it's a tough one. it's a caricature of a famous person, a very famous person, someone you all know, but she doesn't look like this at all, except that she is a woman, and she is african-american.
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take a good long last look at this picture, because i'm not going to show it again. that is the most famous african-american woman in the world and the most admired, michelle obama, as seen through the hateful vision of comic book artist baton lash. he created this for a right wing website. i'm not going to tell you the name of the website because i don't want to drive traffic to it, and i am not going to post the cartoon on our website because i don't want traffic because of it, and i am not going to show you the rest of the cartoon because it is a racist obscenity. another part of the cartoon shows mrs. obama and her husband sitting down to what he imagines as a typical white house dinner. the president is depicted in a half man, half animal form, with ears that don't exist in the species. most are much smarter and better
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writers than james hugnul, whose idea of a clever political joke is to say to michelle and barack obama i stepped up my efforts to control america's eating habits by telling restaurants to lower portion sizes and fat content, then have barack obama reply michelle, i want to get reelected. what you're doing is only going to annoy a lot of people. and while michelle obama is talking about america's bad eating habits, she's in the process of devouring ten hamburgers with fries. shutup and pass the bacon. in response to the accusation that the cartoon is racist, he said this. there is nothing racist about the cartoon.
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he merely drew the first couple in caricature which is what political cartoonists do. but political cartoonists try to create caricatures that actually look like the real people. that's the whole point of a political cartoon. it won't work if it doesn't look like the real person. and long ago, american cartoonists stopped giving people animalistic features. they used to do it a lot. you can see their work on ellis island today in an exhibit that shows the hateful imagery of immigrants that cartoonists regularly churned out 100 years ago. art that made people like the irish look like dangerous animals. baton lash and james hudnel are now working in that vile tradition. no matter what condemnation they face here and elsewhere, they
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will always be able to find a right wing website that is eager to depict black people as animals. and they will always be able to find right wingers that think they have found the true essence of michelle obama by depicting her as angrily barking at the white house dinner table, "shutup and pass the bacon." the first amendment allows them to do this, and of course, the internet will always encourage them to do it. no matter what the rest of us may think about it. what both of these men need is an intervention. an intervention by their loved ones, by their mothers and fathers, in baton lash's case, by his wife.
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like her husband, she works in the comic book industry. she should turn to her husband tonight and tell him to stop doing this. tell him it is time to grow up as an artist. james hudnel's mother, father, siblings, neighbors if he has them, friends, they should tell him his work is ugly, and they should tell him to stop. if you know either one of these people, baton lash and his wife live in san diego. if you live near them, see them at starbuck's, you should tell them that their work is ugly and they should stop. they won't listen to me, but they might listen to you. you have a responsibility, here, too. you are not uninvolved bystanders. you should intervene and make them think about what their grandchildren will think of them when they are not here to defend what they've done. these two are the charlie sheen
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and lindsay lohan of political cartoonists. they are crying out for help. please, jackie estrada, get help for your husband. please, if you're james's mother, or father, tell him how disappointed you are. please, tell them to stop. imagine the possibilitiesfemal] with stelara®. for adults, stelara® helps control moderate or severe plaque psoriasis with 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses. in a medical study, 7 out of 10 stelara® patients saw at least 75% clearer skin at 12 weeks. and 6 out of 10 patients had their plaque psoriasis rated as cleared or minimal at 12 weeks. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and increase your risk of infections. some serious infections require hospitalization. before starting stelara®, your doctor should test for tuberculosis.
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despite the rhetoric about jobs and budget discipline, republicans in washington and across the country are making limiting abortion a top priority again, and they're getting more creative. they want to expand the
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definition of justifiable homicide to include killing a person in the defense of an unborn child. the national abortion federation calls the bill a, quote, invitation to murder abortion providers. since 1993, eight doctors have been killed and 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. justifiable homicide has been invoked as defense in several of those cases. in the u.s. congress, meanwhile, several new provisions seem to limit abortion on the federal level. they include allowing hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion on a woman, even if she'll die without it, prohibiting americans who received insurance through state exchanges from buying abortion coverage, even with their own money. eliminating tax breaks for businesses who provide health plans that include abortion services, and attempting to
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change the definition of rape in order to limit the use of federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest. moveon.org released this ad today. >> only decades ago, women suffered through horrifying, back alley abortions, or they used dangerous methods when they had no other recourse. so when the republican party launched an all out assault on women's health, pushing bills to limit access to vital services, we had to ask why is the gop trying to send women back to the back alley? >> joining me now, lisa edelstein. thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you for having me. >> lisa, in south dakota, they have to fly in a doctor once a week because the state has, actually has no abortion providers.
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that is a world, south dakota is a world much like the old 1950s world that you depict in that commercial. do you get the feeling people on each coast know how bad it can be in places like south dakota? >> no, i don't think people realize. when you say they fly in a daughter, it is planned parent hood that's flying in the doctor. they also offer underprivileged and low income women most of the reproductive healthcare they get. so the attack on planned parent hood in addition to the changes congress is trying to push forward is really frightening. >> now, turns out that the people of south dakota have repeatedly voted against an abortion ban, and there are politicians there that say, for example, that this is just an attempt to get around the well will of the people of south dakota that expressed themselves very clearly. >> yes. and the same is happening in congress where instead of attacking roe versus wade
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directly, they try to change pieces of law to make it illegal, even if the woman would die without it. >> do you feel we are in a political climate where the president is so busy with the budget fights and everything else going on, the crisis in egypt, managing two wars, people sometimes forget he has to do in the course of every day, that something like the abortion wars can kind of start happening out there on the sidelines where our politics isn't paying attention to it, and the issue can get away, that the other side can run away with this thing? >> i think that we're distracted by other things, including what was going on in south dakota. south dakota was so extreme and actually since changed the language a little bit to make it only self defense, rather than you can't kill somebody else but you can kill somebody that's attacking you. but really what's happening that we need to pay attention to is in congress the tiny little words, the fine print, the
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legalese going into already existing laws which will make abortion unattainable, even in the worst situations. >> lisa, this is one of those art in life questions. does working on a medical show like "house" bring you closer to a subject like this, access to medical procedure, a sensitivity that you have anyway, but being with the scripts, great scripts that my friends on the writing staff give you every week, does that somehow raise awareness on these issues even higher? >> not really, but i'm glad you complimented our writers. what it does do is give me a microphone in my face where i can actually speak up. really, this particular issue is important to me because i'm a woman, i was born into a world where i have the right to choose and i don't want to lose that right. >> and did moveon.org approach you for this commercial? how did this particular commercial come about?
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>> when everything came up with congress, they were trying to figure out what to do, how to draw attention to it, and i happened to be on a walk with two of the people from moveon.org, and so i immediately was cast. >> yes. >> it was the easiest casting i ever had. >> one of your easier casting moments, sounds like. >> yeah. >> actress and activist lisa edelstein edelstein. appreciate you coming from the "house" set to do this for us. >> thank you. bye. >> you can have the last word online at our blog. you can also follow us on facebook and follow me at lawrence on twitter. that's tonight's last word. the "rachel maddow show" is up next. good evening, rachel. >> good evening, lawrence. thank you for that. thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. i want to put forward a hypothesis here that i realize nobody else is putting out there.